U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping al-Masri
The Chancellor of Germany has told the world what the the Bush Administration has tried to keep secret: The U.S. admitted making a mistake in kidnapping Khaled al-Masri (also spelled el-Masri) and detaining him for five months. The U.S. made the admission to Germany's then interior minister, Otto Schily.
The Germans became aware of his case in May 2004, when the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to the interior minister, Otto Schily. Ambassador Daniel Coats told Schily the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, al-Masri, for five months and would soon release him, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.
There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if al-Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared legal challenges and exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries.
TalkLeft noted here that it was Condi Rice who ordered the release of al-Masri. As the New York Times said at the time,
Ms. Rice's involvement suggests that the White House may have played a more hands-on role than was previously known. The officials who discussed the matter on Friday suggested that she had intervened as needed, but would not describe the extent to which national security officials at the White House were in charge.
My theory then, which I still think is viable, is that the C.I.A. confused the shoe salesman al-Masri with Muslim Cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.
According to the Times, Mr. Masri, a German shoe salesman, was released in May, 2004. Maybe they confused him with Muslim Cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who coincidentally was arrested in Britain in May, 2004? The cleric was wanted in connection with the Oregon case in which James Ujaama was charged with trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon. Attendees of al-Masri's London mosque allegedly included Richard Reid, the "shoe-bomber" and Zacarias Moussoui.
Only al-Masri the cleric, whose name has also been spelled el-Masri, has one eye and a hook for hands. You would think someone would have noticed the difference between him and Khaled el-Masri before five months went by.
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